By Annie Karni – June 30, 2015
Hillary Clinton will attend an informal, intimate get-together for national and international labor leaders at campaign chairman John Podesta’s Washington, D.C., home on July 14, sources told POLITICO.
The event, which takes place amid lingering concerns in the labor community over Clinton’s stance on trade, is scheduled for one day after a handful of influential labor leaders host a D.C. meet-and-greet with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Communications Workers of America president Chris Shelton, Larry Cohen, the outgoing CWA president and American Postal Workers Union president Mark Dimondstein will host that meeting, which will be held at APWU headquarters in Washington.
“It’s a meet and greet, he’s an important candidate,” Dimondstein said of Sanders. “He’s not in the pocket of the corporations, and wants corporate money out of politics. We hope to hear from him, to go into some of what his platform and program is, and how it relates to working folks. I have not officially endorsed Bernie, but I’m happy to be a co-host so he can meet with other labor leaders.” He said he is expecting a group of between 30 and 40 labor leaders to attend.
On the trail, Clinton has highlighted issues important to the labor movement. She has called for raising the minimum wage, although she has not explicitly endorsed a $15 an hour minimum supported by Sanders as well as former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
In the past, Clinton has been relatively popular with organized labor, winning the endorsements of the American Federation of Teachers and AFSCME in 2008. The National Education Association, the largest labor union in the country, meanwhile, remained on the sidelines before backing Barack Obama in the general election.
But this time around, labor leaders have said they have concerns about her stances on some of the defining issues for them. Sanders has managed to make some small inroads with labor: he won support from the Vermont teachers union and the South Carolina AFL-CIO passed a resolution supporting his candidacy and urging the national organization to endorse him before it was forced to walk back its message.
“I have serious concerns about her position on the Trans Pacific Partnership, and her role in negotiations on that,” said Dimondstein, who was not invited to the meet-and-greet at Podesta’s house. “But at this point, I’ll certainly listen to everyone. Bernie Sanders is unquestionably a friend of postal workers. Certainly on that basis, I’m happy to be a co-host.”
Clinton, Sanders, and O’Malley have also all trekked down to Washington, D.C. in recent weeks to court the American Federation of Teachers, helmed by longtime Clinton ally Randi Weingarten. The union has yet to make an official endorsement in the race. All three Democratic candidates have also met with the National Education Association and AFSCME.
A Clinton campaign spokesman declined to comment. A Sanders spokesman did not return a request for comment.